Google, AHA to spend $50 million to combat heart disease

'We intend to really change the way cardiovascular research is conducted'

The American Heart Association (AHA) and Google Life Sciences recently announced a five-year, $50 million joint research project that aims to develop ways to treat, prevent, and potentially cure coronary heart disease.

According to AHA, about 17.5 million people die from cardiovascular diseases each year, seven million of whom die from coronary heart disease.

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Currently, AHA says, providers and researchers often take an incremental approach to combating heart disease.

Details of the research project

The project—called "1 Team, 1 Vision, $50,000,000"—will consist of a multidisciplinary team of investigators, headed by a single project leader. Google Life Sciences CEO Andy Conrad said that the screening process for the project leader will start immediately and that they are looking for an individual with a creative vision. AHA and Google Life Sciences hope to have a leader selected by mid-February.

The leader will be responsible for creating the overall plan, as well as recruiting a single team of specialists, including:

  • Clinicians;
  • Designers;
  • Engineers;
  • Researchers; and
  • Scientists.

The organizations each will contribute $25 million, as well as other resources needed to support the project.

The new definition of cardiovascular leadership

For example, Conrad said Google Life Sciences will leverage its expertise in data analytics, sensors to monitor individuals' health, and machine-based learning to try to "shake" up the current research process. He noted that heart disease is the leading cause of the death worldwide and "seems ripe for new innovation" and disruptive, novel thinking.

Conrad also noted that the "massive undertaking" of the project could "jumpstart a cross-pollination of technology and science."

AHA CEO Nancy Brown added, "We intend to really change the way cardiovascular research is conducted."

Brown and Conrad both stated that the partnership's goal is to find "a cure" for heart disease, Peggy Peck  reports for MedPage Today (Winslow, Wall Street Journal, 11/8; AHA release, 11/8; Peck, MedPage Today, 11/8; Marchione,AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 11/9).

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